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Evaluation of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) final report (Lewis-Charp et al. 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Lewis-Charp, H., Khemani, D., D’Amico, R., Goger, A., Gutierrez, I., Clark, M., Mack, M., Sarver, M., & van Docto, C. (2017). Evaluation of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) final report. Oakland, CA: Social Policy Research Associates.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) program on earnings and employment outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare students in the treatment group to two different comparison groups of students: students who were not enrolled in M-CAM programs while the program was in operation (contemporary comparison group) and students who were enrolled in the same manufacturing program prior to M-CAM implementation (historical comparison group).
  • The study found that M-CAM participation was significantly associated with higher employment rates and earnings than the contemporary comparison group. However, when compared to the historical comparison group, the study found that M-CAM participation was significantly associated with higher employment rates and lower earnings.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) Program

Features of the Intervention

The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provided $1.9 billion in grants to community colleges to improve skills and support employment in high-demand industries, notably manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, and transportation. Through four rounds of funding, DOL awarded 256 TAACCCT grants to approximately 800 educational institutions across the United States and its territories.

The Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) program was comprised of eight community colleges and was funded during the third round of TAACCCT program. M-CAM allowed the colleges to improve their manufacturing training program, including courses aligned to industry needs, new industry-recognized certifications, online and hybrid courses, and new equipment that allowed for more hands-on learning. It also provided assessment, career counseling services, and employment services such as job search and placement. M-CAM focused on four pathways: production, welding, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, and multi-skilled technician/mechatronics. For students enrolled in a credit program, M-CAM eligibility was generally determined by achieving a specified score on the Accuplacer or Compass assessment. Noncredit students had to have a minimum score on Work Keys, or a similar assessment.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the M-CAM program to those who did not. The authors compared the outcomes of 2,562 students in the M-CAM program to two different comparison groups. The first comparison group, a contemporary comparison group, consisted of 1,156 students enrolled in two other programs offered at the colleges at the same time M-CAM was operating (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Automotive Technician). The second comparison group, a historical comparison group, included 3,013 students who enrolled in the manufacturing program between 2012 and 2013—the two years before the M-CAM program began. Using data from the schools' Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) system, Michigan's Workforce Development Agency, and Unemployment Insurance records., the authors used statistical models to compare differences in earnings and employment outcomes between the treatment and comparison groups.

Study Sites

  • Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba, Michigan
  • Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Lake Michigan College in Berrien County, Michigan
  • Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan
  • Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan
  • Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan
  • Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan

Findings

Earnings and Wages

  • The study found a significant positive relationship between M-CAM participation and earnings, with M-CAM students earning more money than contemporary comparison group students in the second through eighth quarters after program enrollment.
  • However, when compared to a historical comparison group, the study found a significant relationship between program participation and lower wages with M-CAM students earning less money in the first and second quarters after program enrollment.

Employment

  • The study found a significant positive relationship between M-CAM participation and employment, with M-CAM students having higher employment rates than contemporary comparison group students in the second through eighth quarters after program enrollment.
  • The study also found a significant positive relationship between M-CAM participation and employment when compared to a historical comparison group, with M-CAM students having higher employment rates in the eight quarters after program enrollment.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not account for other factors that could have affected the difference between the treatment and comparison groups, such as pre-intervention degree of financial disadvantage. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the M-CAM program—could explain the observed differences in outcomes. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the M-CAM program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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